Mobility and Aspiration for Muslim College Youth

My book project, Mobility and Aspiration for Muslim College Youth, examines the category of ‘Muslim youth’ through an ethnographic study of migration, mobility, and aspiration among Pakistani-origin Muslim college students. During sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Lahore and New York City, I followed transnational working-class, college students from rural family backgrounds at two ‘global’ universities who espoused a similar American liberal arts ethos. In the book, I argue aspiration for mobility is a key organizing concept that allows us to understand the construction of South Asian-origin, Muslim youth subject-making. Each chapter follows youth as they re-fashion their social identities and professional aspirations in their efforts to become global citizens.


To do this, youth draw on neoliberal ideologies learned in the ‘global’ university and socio-political savvy discovered through online interactions with other Muslim, South Asian youth communities. In the process, they confront the precarity of being Muslim during a moment of heightened surveillance of Muslims across global contexts. Moreover, students negotiate family expectations and home traditions with their developing ‘modern’, urbane, professional selves. This project extends the anthropological theories of migration by taking seriously the multiple types of (im)mobility that facilitate migration. These might include aspirations for economic and financial mobility, negotiations with a modern, secular persona for school and work while maintaining more religious, traditional selves with kin, or resisting social pressures to change one’s gendered appearance even when that hinders professional mobility. This research was supported by the Zwicker Fellowship for South Asian Research, the Dissertation Research Fellowship at Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Critical Writing Teaching Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. 


camra is an interdisciplinary collective of researchers and educators committed to participatory, experimental media-making. While at Penn, I was the Festival Director for our 2016 Screening Scholarship Media Festival organized around the theme of "Race, Media, and Social Justice." As a group, we engage in projects and workshops that use multimodal representation to push knowledge production in new directions. We develop productive partnerships with community organizations and scholars.  We organize supportive spaces for creating and showcasing new work, such as our annual Media Festival and other events. In 2014, my work was featured at the Ethnographic Terminalia at the American Anthropological Association Meeting in Washington D.C. Please learn more

Bad Friday Goes to Africa: Rastafari After Coral Gardens

Led by Dr. Deborah Thomas, Dr. John L. Jackson Jr., and Junior Gabo Wedderburn, BAD FRIDAY focuses on a community of Rastafarians in western Jamaica who annually commemorate the 1963 Coral Gardens "incident," a moment just after independence when the Jamaican government rounded up, jailed and tortured hundreds of Rastafarians. It chronicles the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community, and shows how people use their recollections of past traumas to imagine new possibilities for a collective future.  More info @


Rasta Rights and Reparations: Africa Tour July 2013 (w/ Arjun Shankar)

Beating as One: The Music of Ancient Vibration (w/ Arjun Shankar)


"Film Tells of Rastafarian Oppression" 

"Bad Friday, Good Dialogue"